Fun Fun Fun Fest, 2012
By now, it seems fairly safe to assume that everyone on earth knows about Austin’s SXSW music festival. It’s big and it’s awesome, and you should definitely go sometime.
But Austin’s got a bunch of other music festivals, too, and one of my favorites is called Fun Fun Fun Fest. This year’s Fest just recently wrapped up, and it’s the topic of this particular Random Review.
In a most excellent introduction and explanation of Fun Fun Fun Fest, the editors at Misprint magazine (who printed up the Official Guide to FFF) describe the festival as “actually a sort of successful music festival,” and they acknowledge that FFF is now a significant stop on “the international rocker nerd festival circuit.”
November 2–4 was the seventh annual FFF Fest. I’d missed the last couple (damn you, Blister), and my friend Joey in Austin sent me a text that said, “No Excuses. Get Down Here.”
He was right. It had been too long. So I got down there.
This year, about 300 bands came to FFF, and about 15,000 people showed up to hear them. There were eight stages that were set up in pairs across Austin’s Auditorium Shores park to form the Yellow, Orange, Blue, and Black “stage,” and acts performed sets that were 30–50 minutes long, alternating from (for example) the left Yellow stage to the right Yellow stage.
There was also a skate & bike park, a Veggie Hot Dog Eating Contest, a magic show, and the FFF Dating Game. (See? Fun!)
But music festivals are like a buffet: it’s a bad move to load up your plate with everything. You’ve got to pace yourself and pick your spots, or you’ll wreck the whole experience.
So on Friday, November 2, day 1, we decided to skip a bunch of the early acts, but not because there weren’t some great ones. For example, we missed Tia Carrera, which, according to Misprint‘s Official Guide of FFF, “If you have a kid that wants to play drums, and you don’t have the drummer from this band teach your kid to play drums, then you’re an idiot.”
I don’t have kids, but that writeup definitely made me sorry to miss that drummer.
We also missed Omar Rodríguez-López, which is even less defensible, given that my rockstar friend Noah (leader of the band Man Hurls Hedgehog) calls Omar “one of the most unique guitarists on the planet,” and Rolling Stone named him one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Definitely not the sort of performer you ought to skip.
But to keep this from getting too long, let’s fast forward to Friday night:
Santigold – 7:40 p.m., Orange Stage
Santigold put on a solid show. By “solid,” I mean that there were her signature odd, twin dancers, big beats, and an even bigger fake horse head cruising around the stage. The whole thing was way more quirky / funny and less ‘let-me-show-you-how-badass-I-am’ than I’d imagined. (Clearly, I should spend more time watching music videos on YouTube.)
Santigold wrapped up, and then…
The RUN DMC Reunion – 8:35 p.m., Orange Stage
Yep. The Reverend Run and DMC are back after more than an eleven-year break, and this show in Austin was exactly 10 years and 2 days after their DJ, Jam-Master Jay, was murdered.
Of course, the question that I and everyone else had on their minds: How’s this gonna go without Jay?
Turns out, Jam Master Jay has two sons, both of whom are accomplished DJs in their own right: Dasmatic and Jam Master J’Son (get it?) worked the turntables at FFF in a way that would definitely have made their father proud. So RUN DMC was back, and Jam Master Jay’s two sons were on the turntables.
It was one big reunion / tribute show / novelty act (old Rev. Run was looking remarkably fat; old Daryl was looking remarkably diesel), plus a passing of the torch to Jay’s kids and a chance to show off what they can do. In other words, it was a whole lot to pack into a 40-minute set.
The highlights? For me, “Beats to the Rhyme” and “It’s Tricky,” though the crowd freaked out the most over “My Adidas” and, unsurprisingly, the closing song of the night, “Walk This Way.”
It was then 10:30 p.m., there were no more performances in the park, and it was time to eat. So we headed to Bouldin Creek Cafe on 1st Street.
Interlude: Bouldin Creek Cafe is a vegetarian coffee shop and cafe, and my favorite place in Austin. Why? Their massive $2.75 tacos. You can get a 16oz. Lone Star and three tacos (which will only fit on two plates) for just over 10 bucks.
And you really only need to order one taco. Two, and you’re good to go. Three, and you clearly are just ordering more because it’s a terrible feeling to be finished and no longer eating these things. Go there.
We finally left Bouldin Creek, and it was time for Fun Fun Fun Nites: after the concerts in the park end, the shows continue at various bars across the city.